How to Make a Great Hard Boiled Egg That Peels Easily
If you like hard boiled eggs made the classic way, you are going to love the results you'll get by preparing them sous vide.
Sous vide means "under vacuum" in French and is a cooking technique in which you vacuum-seal ingredients in plastic bags, submerge them in water and cook the ingredients at “precisely controlled temperatures” for a specific amount of time.
You can learn more about sous vide and read about my very first experiences with this technique here.
Why Hard Boiled Eggs?
In my case, I'm making hard boiled eggs because I'm on a diet and they are the perfect source of high quality proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and are only 77 calories. If you are counting calories like I am, a 77 calorie delicious hard boiled egg with only 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein is a great snack between meals or can be added to a healthy salad for lunch or dinner.
If you're not on a diet, think deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, egg slices for a salad, stir fries, or you can even try pickling some in vinegar, water and a little sugar. And who doesn't like just peeling one and dip into a little salt & pepper? Yum!
Why Sous Vide Eggs?
The simple answer is because you can control exactly how firm the egg yolk and white are going to be EVERY time. There are lots of ways to make hard boiled eggs using the boiling technique and each has factors that can change the outcome.
Depending on how you learned to prepare them, you may add eggs to a pot of boiling water for a specified amount of time or start with room temperature water, bring them to a boil and then let them sit for a period of time. How long it takes to bring them to a boil and how long you let them sit can drastically alter the finished product depending on lots of factors:
- size of eggs - large, extra large, jumbo
- age of the eggs
- number of eggs
- quality of pots you cook them in and the stove you cook them on
So the bottom line is by using this sous vide technique, you can prepare perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs exactly how you like them every time no matter how big they are, how many you cook or any of the other factors above.
Do They Taste Better?
That's so subjective and really depends on the quality of the eggs you start with but I thought the eggs I cooked for this post were perfect and tasted amazingly good. That might be because of time and effort I put in or I'm always a little hungry and everything tastes better now that I'm on this diet.
What I need to do is a side by side taste tasting with both boiled and sous vide hard boiled eggs and see if I can taste a difference. I know I can always get the perfect consistency with sous vide and that's not always the case with boiling or steaming.
How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs That Peel Easily?
So here's the tricky part. To make sous vide eggs peel easily so they don't stick to the shell, you have to pre-boil them for 3 minutes before adding them to the sous vide water bath. I know, this may seem like a lot of extra work, but those 3 minutes are going to save you a lot of time and frustration when you start peeling those tasty orbs.
I know, I experimented with doing it with and without boiling the eggs first and learned firsthand this technique works. In the photos below, I pre-boiled the white egg for 3 minutes and then gave it a bath in ice water before adding to the sous vide water. The brown egg went straight into the sous vide bath and the results are evident.
The brown eggs didn't peel nicely at all. They were extremely hard to peel and I ended up with a lot of the egg stuck to the shell. Very disappointing!
I suppose if you are only going to make one or two hard boiled eggs, using the boiling or steaming technique may be a lot easier but if you are planning on making a bunch of hard boiled eggs, sous vide is really the way to go.
|Pre-Boiled Egg||No Pre-Boiling Egg|
Why Are Older Eggs Easier to Peel When Hard Boiled?
Whether you are using the sous vide technique or classic boiling method, older eggs are easier to peel after they are hard boiled. This is because as an egg gets older, the eggshell loses some of its protective coat making the egg shell more porous and allowing it to take in more external air while releasing internal carbon dioxide.
As this process continues, the egg white shrinks, creating a small space between the egg white and the shell and thus making it easier to peel. On a more scientific note, as the egg white absorbs external air, it becomes more acidic.
A more acidic environment reduces the amount of stick the egg white (albumen) membrane has to the shell and again makes it easier to peel.
I'm guessing when you boil the eggs before placing them in the sous vide bath, you may be causing some of the same reactions created by age. Not sure so if there are any scientists reading this, please let me know in the comments section.
I also learned older eggs (and I don't know exactly what age this happens) will float in a pot of water whereas fresh eggs will sink to the bottom.
Time and Temperate for Hard Boiled Eggs
One thing I've learned about sous vide cooking, it's all about learning how long to cook something in a water bath and the water temperature for cooking.
Saying that, it typically doesn't matter with most ingredients you cook if you go over 5, 10, 15 even 30 minutes in most cases. You just want to be careful not to use too low a temperature or cook for less time than required.
The first website I checked said 170°F for 1 hour, the next one I found said 165°F for 45 minutes so I decided to go with 165°F for 1 hour and the results were spectacular. I cooked 9 eggs, 6 white ones that were pre-boiled for 3 minutes and 3 brown eggs that were not.
I don't think it would have mattered if I cooked an even dozen or even two dozen. There was plenty of room in my sous vide container.
The recipe below starts with the premise of pre-boiling the eggs to facilitate the peeling. You don't have to take this step, but I think it's well worth the time and effort.
How to Sous Vide Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
- My old hard-anodized 4 quart sauce pot
- Oven safe plastic slotted spoon
- Large stainless steel bowl for ice water
- Cambro 4.75 gallon polycarbonate food storage container for sous viding in
- Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker
- 9 eggs large or jumbo
- Get all your equipment ready to go. Attach your sous vide precision cooker to a large container filled with hot water from the sink. You can use cold water but it will take a lot longer to heat up. Better to use hot water from the tap.I found the water heats up faster if I cover the container with aluminum foil being careful to leave the corner away from the circulator open to let the steam out. I have also used a dish towel.
- It's going to take time depending on the temperature of your tap water to get up to 165°F so plan accordingly. I would suggest you wait until the water temperature reaches around 150°F before you bring a large pot (large enough to hold 9 eggs) of water to boil.
- When the water comes to a boil, carefully add the eggs to the pot using a slotted spoon or Chinese spider. Boil for 3 minutes.
- While the eggs are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice water. As soon as the 3 minutes are up, carefully transfer the eggs from the pot to the ice bath using a slotted spoon. Once they are cooled off, about 1 minute, remove and reserve until the sous vide water reaches temperature.
- When you add the eggs to the 165°F water, it is naturally going to go down a few degrees. Don't worry, it doesn't take long to get back to 165°F. Set your timer for 60 minutes and go off and find something else to do.
- As you get close to 60 minutes of cooking, fill the ice water bowl back up with cold tap water and have at the ready. When 60 minutes are up, carefully transfer the eggs from the sous vide container to the cold water bath.
- Let the eggs cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to a storage container and store in the refrigerator until you need them. I used an empty egg carton that I market up saying Hard Boiled Eggs.